RonSkoda wrote:According to news from Belgium, Francois Duval refused an offer from Proton for an IRC programme plus events in APRC. He was offerred 125,000 Euros but declined because he did not want to do the events in Asia. I am disappointed that neither party would budge on that because I would have liked to have seen Francois in IRC but I am pleased that Proton are looking for a good driver and are willing to pay him.
So who now? Atko? He would be ideally placed to also do some events in Asia.
Gardemeister would be a safe pair of hands too, although I doubt he could match the top IRC guys on either surface.
Some notes to this post. It seems always dificult to find the true reality. On usually reliable, German http://www.motorsport-total.com
there is a report of Duval ending his career because he finds it unrealistic to find a works drive in WRC. In there they report, in contrast to what Ron found, that Duval actually wanted to do Asia-Pacific rounds but the seat was snapped up by Chris Atkinson instead.
I personally am not sure what to think here. On one side you could jokingly say what difference does it make if he is a spectator full stop or if he crashes at the start of SS1 and then turns a spectator. On the other hand I wonder what happened with all his weird, early crashes. Ypres 1st corner SS1 was a joke, San Remo his performance was a joke, was it Condroz he crashed the Lancer WRC early, in the recent Boucles de Spa historic he crashed the Fiat 124. Was it his navigator injuring Japan 08 crash that throw him out? But then he was still 6th in the Rally GB thereafter. True Duval has a rough style with lots of LFB, but I would also say at Citroen he was in the wrong car. In 2005 Märtin would have been better off at Citroen and Duval better at Peugeot. And still Duval won Australia that year and Duval gave Loeb a run for his money on Rallye Deutschland 07 with an outdated car. I would find it a huge shame if this young talent ended his career, though he is in the same boat as Galli, Atko and several others (P-G, Aava, Pons, Carlsson, the list of drivers who would be more deserving of these M2 drives is endless).
From a Proton point of view I do believe however Atko is the better choice. Great Proton seems ready to pay a high profile driver. But Proton is still a small team/manufacturer, they need a driver who can do development, not one who destroys the cars faster than they can build them. That Atko also lives in Europe makes it weird for me that Proton takes him for Asia-Pacific without a mention of IRC. But Atko has superb knowledge of Asia-Pacific, being a former Suzuki S1600 works driver in that series.
Gardemeister indeed a good mention. Like you I doubt he is on the pace of the IRC front runners, but I think he is at least as quick as Alister, he is a superb alrounder, and most likely a better car developer than all of Proton's other options Alister, Duval, Atko.